Boris Johnson accuses Tory Brexit rebels of 'gravely damaging' national interest as he blames them for no-deal

Posted On: 
18th August 2019

Boris Johnson has accused Conservative Brexit rebels of "gravely damaging" the national interest and making it more likely that Britain will leave the European Union without a deal.

The Prime Minister said it was "plain as a pikestaff" that EU leaders would "simply not compromise" if MPs continued to talk about stopping no-deal.
Credit: 
PA

The Prime Minister said it was "plain as a pikestaff" that EU leaders would "simply not compromise" and agree a favourable deal if Tory MPs openly discussed stopping a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

The warning, in a letter leaked to the Mail on Sunday, will be seen as a thinly-veiled attack on former Chancellor Philip Hammond, who this week said he was "very confident" the Commons would come up with a way to stop the Government leaving the EU without an agreement in place on Hallowe'en.

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Mr Hammond has warned such a scenario would represent a "betrayal" of the 2016 referendum result, and has accused "unelected" advisers to Mr Johnson of pushing him into a more hardline stance since taking office.

But Mr Johnson hit back, writing in his letter that "any such Parliamentary campaign, any tricks of procedure or alliance of factions designed to derail Brexit, gravely damages the chances of our securing a deal".

He said: "The EU can see the public debate among Parliamentarians and they have been told privately by some British politicians that Parliament will frustrate our exit on 31 October. 

"Some of you have said publicly that you are determined to try to stop us leaving the EU on that date if we cannot secure a deal."

The Prime Minister added: "It is as plain as a pikestaff that Brussels – or the EU 27 – will simply not compromise as long as they believe there is the faintest possibility that Parliament can block Brexit on 31 October."

Mr Johnson meanwhile claimed "so-called efforts to prevent No Deal are in fact making No Deal more likely".

MORDAUNT 'MUTINY' WARNING

That message was echoed by former Cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt, who used a piece in The Sunday Telegraph to hit out at Jeremy Corbyn's call for Conservative rebels and other opposition parties to  back him as head of short-lived unity government aimed at extending Article 50 and then calling an election.

Mr Corbyn on Sunday urged MPs to get behind the proposal "before it’s too late".

But, dismissing the plan as a "Government of National Mutiny", Ms Mordaunt warned colleagues to put an end to "silly season" and "apply all your efforts in the coming weeks to securing a deal".

And, in a direct attack on members of the government she served in, the former Defence Secretary wrote: "The actions of some in the previous government will soon be known: the unhelpful spin; the briefing to members of foreign governments that our attempts to leave were just theatre and the crisis mere artifice; the good work done by the civil service to prepare for no deal being hidden from the public and key decision takers."

The interventions came as The Sunday Telegraph reported that Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay has now signed the "commencement order" which will trigger the end of the supremacy of EU law in the UK on 31 October. 

The move, which would formally repeal the 1972 European Communities Act on Halowe'en and bring the European Union Withdrawal Act 2018 into force, has been described as "absolutely totemic" by leading Brexiteer Steve Baker.

The European Research Group chair told The Sun on Sunday: "It’s the do-or-die pledge in black and white. It’s not merely symbolic. Once it’s signed that’s it, the UK is leaving."

Downing Street sources meanwhile said the Prime Minister would use talks with French and German leaders Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel next week to insist that MPs cannot stop a no-deal Brexit. 

Mr Johnson will reportedly tell EU leaders during a two-day trip to attend the G7 summit in Biarritz, France, that "there must be a new deal to replace the failed Brussels deal" but that Britain is willing to leave without an agreement on 31 October if one cannot be struck.